Owners of Redmond’s Bai Tong restaurant plead guilty to tax scheme

Married couple accused of using “tax zapper” software to hide cash sales.

Co-owners of the popular Bai Tong restaurant chain have pleaded guilty to their involvement in a multi-year scheme to hide business cash sales and produce false tax returns. The married couple allegedly used this tactic to reduce the taxes they owed.

The pair, Pornchai Chaiseeha and Chadillada Lapangkura, are part owners of Thai restaurants located in Washington, Oregon and Hawaii, according to court documents. In Redmond, they own Bai Tong at 14804 NE 24th St. While some of their restaurants are named Bai Tong, others go by the name Noi.

Chaiseeha and Lapangkura pled guilty on Aug. 14, in U.S. District Court in Seattle to conspiracy to defraud the government by under-reporting their revenue by more than $1 million. Their sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 4.

The charges stem from the couple’s use of a point-of-sale computer system, court documents state. These systems are commonly used by retail businesses to keep track of dates, customers, servers, tables, orders, payments, refunds and point-of-sale transactions.

These transactions were recorded on the software’s database and allowed software users to calculate their monthly revenues. Some of these systems also had companion software programs, revenue suppression software or “zapper” programs, that were used for the sole purpose of tax evasion by deleting cash sales.

Since 2013, simple possession (for the intent of use) of this kind of program has been prohibited in Washington.

Chaiseeha and Lapangkura allegedly used the “zapper” program to omit some cash sales from certain locations’ accounting records and created an inaccurate set of records missing cash sales. These records were used for state and federal tax returns from 2011-16.

Prosecutors said these unreported dollars were then used to pay employees and other business and personal expenses. They also failed to report the existence of foreign bank accounts in Thailand, where prosecutors say they transferred some of the omitted cash.

In Chaiseeha’s plea agreement, the government has agreed to recommend a sentence of imprisonment of no more than 18 months. For Lapangkura, a recommendation of no more than 24 months will be given. A joint total restitution amount of $299,806 will be paid to the Internal Revenue Service. The defendants declined to comment for this story.